RMIT OurPlace @QV

This project will centralise staff from eight different RMIT locations into one tailored contemporary workplace.

To create it, ARM and Geyer are fitting out 10,000m² over three floors of Melbourne’s existing QV building at 222 Lonsdale Street.

The project has relied hugely on its main stakeholders: future OurPlace@QV staff.

Research and workshops

Over four months, ARM and Geyer collected data all about the staff who will use the building and their work.

So far, there have been an amazing 1,600 touch points of consultation: that is, 1,600 interactions between stakeholders and the design team including survey responses and discussions at meetings and workshops.

We have used these to create a workplace strategy to inform our designs.

 

 

In this early workshop, we explored people’s ideal workplace settings for various collaborative and individual activities. (Incidentally, the venue was our 2010 RMIT Green Brain.)

Envisioning workshop boards

In our envisioning workshops, we worked with RMIT staff to assess how well their current workplaces are set up to support their activities: what works and what doesn’t. This highlighted the difference between today’s workplace activities, technologies and culture and the ones those workplaces were originally designed for.

From there, we brainstormed what the staff would like to do differently in their new workplace, and how they would like it to feel.

This informed both our workplace design and interior design tasks.

Time-utilisation studies

We observed RMIT staff in their current workplaces. We collected data on the time individuals spent on all activities at and away from their workstations.

Major findings were things like:

  • staff are already mobile, averaging only 41% of their time at their desks
  • 42 per cent of work is individual and more than half of that is highly focused
  • 76 per cent of collaborative tasks involve two to four people only.

From these findings, we made recommendations about the number of workstations needed, the sizes and types of collaboration spaces, and the ratios of formal to informal spaces of various sorts.

We also consulted with RMIT stakeholder groups responsible for accessibility, diversity and inclusion, designing beyond research, and technical considerations.

Destinations and Neighbourhoods

At 10,000 m², such a large workplace could feel like an endless desk farm. So OurPlace@QV is divided into zones with various characters, names and stories. This also helps with wayfinding.

In our proposal, Level 5 is The Burbs (home to The Verandah, The Good Room, the Tree House etc.), Level 6 is The Bush, and Level 7 The Big Picture. Each has its own group of zones known as destinations and neighbourhoods.

DESTINATIONS are centralised shared places for socialising, eating, learning and development, events, wellness initiatives or collaborations.

Staff kitchens and concierge/service desks are destinations too.

NEIGHBOURHOODS are where work happens: individual focused tasks, co-creating and collaborating, and meeting.

Workstations come in different design styles and environments to suit different people and tasks. So do neighbourhood meeting and collaboration spaces.

OurPlace@QV’s arrival point on Level 5 is called Global Futures. It’s a destination space with a concierge desk. There’s a touchdown zone with café-style seating for quick meetings with visitors, and it connects to more meeting rooms of various sizes.

Next to Global Futures is the Good Room. It’s another destination zone with some of the more formal collaboration spaces. There’s a domestic feel about the design because it’s inspired by the post-war architecture of Robin Boyd.

RMIT has a collection of around 2,500 art works, and over 70 will displayed around Our Place.

The Tech Zone is a major collaboration space. There are circuit boards, soldering, precious metals and LED references. The design speaks of RMIT’s role in the city, and as a university of technology. There are moveable boards for writing on, and choices of furniture for different activities.

All over OurPlace@QV there are collaboration spaces with walls for writing on, team Kanban boards, and places to sit and discuss.

Representing Melbourne’s First People

Indigenous Reconciliation (opportunities for Indigenous and non-Indigenous people to build a shared future) is a key objective for this project and it is fundamental to our design work.

ARM and Geyer have worked closely—and often—throughout the design process with RMIT Elder-in-Residence Aunty Carolyn Briggs AM and Professor Mark McMillan, RMIT Deputy Pro Vice-Chancellor Indigenous Education and Engagement.

 

The interior design is locally relevant, exploring the meaning of the site and of Place to the Boonwurrung people.

Materiality and colours reference the six Boonwurrung seasons. A bespoke wallpaper is being created by local Indigenous designers.

One of the Big Picture zones is called Ngargee: a gathering place. It will welcome people to the space and celebrate global indigeneity.

Ngargee is OurPlace@QV’s most spectacular space. There’s a cosmos motif on the steps and floor because the night sky binds us all. The different sections of bespoke upholstery reflect different places and cultures. Some is dyed with ash from a Yorta Yorta smoking ceremony. There are tartans and Moroccan fabrics and Persian rugs. There is hand-dyed wool from the Dandenongs.

ARM’s 2018 design studio for Master of Architecture students, entitled It’s Not Working, was a Work Integrated Learning project.

For students

The project has created opportunities for RMIT students of multiple disciplines. It has inspired seven projects for Work Integrated Learning (a cornerstone of RMIT education).

ARM has worked on some of these projects with students of Master of Architecture, Bachelor of Interior Design, Diploma of Interior Design, and textiles and ceramics.

Ngargee has some textiles created by students.

There is also a student design competition, critiqued by ARM, for interior elements such as glazing graphics, upholstery and wallpaper.

OurPlace@QV commences construction in September and staff will move in from April 2020.